Apr 5, 2012; Uniondale, NY, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) celebrates scoring with teammates during the third period against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Islanders won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Where's Evander?

Feb 6, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall (4) skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Oilers 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The framework has been laid for Evander Kane and the Winnipeg Jets. But somehow it doesn’t seem like it’s the money or the length of term that’s standing in the way of Kane staying in the Peg. Take a look at the Taylor Hall’s new contract in Edmonton, and that of Jeff Skinner in Carolina.

 

 

Taylor Hall – Cap Hit: $6M; Term: 7-years; Age: 20; Games Played: 126

Jeff Skinner – Cap Hit: $5.725M; Term: 6-years; Age: 20; Games Played: 146

 

At 21 years of age Kane has slightly more NHL experience having played in 213 games. Though he’s tallied less frequently than Skinner and Hall, he’s equally important to his team – if not more so.

The Oilers have had three straight number 1 picks in the Entry Drafts, and all three players (Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov) stand to become NHL stars. Add Jordan Eberle to the mix, and Hall is just one piece of an embarrassment of riches.

March 11, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner (53) warms up before a game against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Hurricanes rely on Skinner for depth behind the brothers Staal and freshly signed winger Alexander Semin. The Hurricanes will throw caution to the wind this year, bringing the ability to score – and score often – to the table.

Both of these teams have more scoring talent than the Jets. This is why Kane is the most important piece of the Jets’ puzzle. He brings size and talent to the top line and is the best natural scorer on the team. That’s something that neither Hall nor Skinner can boast for their clubs.

The Jets need Evander Kane. But does Evander Kane need the Jets? With the money that’s been thrown around at this year’s restricted free agents (RFAs), and even at players who stand to become RFAs next summer, how has GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and company managed to leave Kane unsigned?

It’s like a game of Where’s Waldo; we all know that Kane and the Jets are talking, but nobody’s seen or heard anything of substance. Kane’s lost in a mess of CBA talks and contract extensions. And frankly, I don’t think he wants to play in Winnipeg.

If this is the case, Kane needs to be traded to the highest bidder. There’s no shortage of teams that will pay – and pay handsomely – for Kane’s services. There’s always the possibility of an offer sheet, but if Kane signs a sheet and Cheveldayoff chooses not to match it, the Jets will be reimbursed only with draft picks. Cheveldayoff will be aiming higher than a first, second and third round pick. Proven NHL talent, a top prospect and a quality pick is a much more likely scenario.

If Kane doesn’t want to be in Winnipeg, Winnipeg doesn’t want Kane. It’s time to move the asset and collect talent that actually fits in with the Jets game plan.

Tags: Evander Kane Jeff Skinner Kevin Cheveldayoff Taylor Hall Winnipeg Jets

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